What is a women's refuge
A women's refuge or safe house offers shelter and protection to women affected by violence and their children at any time of the day or night.
The women's refuge / safe house is open to women who are affected by physical, mental, sexualised or economic violence. It does not matter whether they have been beaten, insulted, threatened, suffered rape or been prevented from accessing money: a women's refuge / safe house exists for all women regardless of their origin, financial situation, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Many women affected by violence find it helpful to talk to a person whom they trust. This may be a friend, a doctor or a neighbour. The person may be able to help them get in touch with a women's refuge / safe house.
If you are not sure whether you want to go into a women's refuge / safe house, but do need support, many towns have advice centres that can offer assistance on the issue of violence against women.
You can find the contact details here:
Even women who are not experiencing physical violence can seek shelter in a women's refuge / safe house.
Any woman can call a women's refuge / safe house for help regardless of her income.
The staff in the women's refuges / safe houses have a lot of experience in custody and access rights and work closely with family lawyers.
Women's refuges / safe houses offer:
Security and accommodation day and night
Support in practical issues and confidential advice
Support for children
Someone to provide support when meeting institutions and agencies/authorities
Group sessions and leisure activities for women and children
You do not need documents in order to be admitted – your safety is what matters most.
If you can plan to go to a women's refuge / safe house, please bring the following things with you:
- Passports, identity cards, social insurance cards
- Health insurance card
- Work permit
- Any necessary medication
- Medical certificates
- Family register / birth and marriage certificates
- Employment tax card
- Proof of income (e.g. payslip or statement from the job centre)
- Bank card / account statements
- Tenancy agreement
- Mobile phone contract
- Driving licence
- Work papers / references
- Insurance documents
- Personal things that are important to you and which help you feel better
If you are going to a women's refuge / safe house with children, please bring the following things with you as well:
- Children's identity cards
- Vaccination records / healthcare booklets
- Any necessary medication
- School certificates and school items
- Child benefit notifications
- Childcare allowance notifications
- Custody rights notification, if any
- Contact details for the youth welfare office if you have already had contact with them
- Favourite toy / cuddly toy
You do not need the above documents in order to be admitted – your safety is what matters most.
How do I get to a women's refuge / safe house?
You can get in touch with a women's refuge / safe house by phone or email. The staff on the phone will go through all the key questions with you. If you can be admitted, an arrangement will be made to pick you up from a certain place. You will not normally be given the address of the women's refuge / safe house over the phone.
Note on languages in the women's refuge / safe houses:
Every women's refuge / safe house will indicate the language which is spoken by the staff. in which the initial telephone advice can be given.
The staff in the women's refuges / safe houses will try to offer help and assistance even if they do not speak the same language as you do.
Personal advice in the women's refuge / safe house will usually be provided through an interpreter.
Note on accessibility in the women's refuge / safe houses:
Each women's refuge / safe house displays information about accessibility. Only a very few women's refuges / safe houses are fully or easily accessible. Staff in the women's refuges / safe houses will attempt to find the appropriate help and assistance for you.
Do not hesitate to call the women's refuge / safe house of your choice on the phone to find out more precise information.